tv MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson MSNBC May 16, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PDT
statement in the next couple of hours. as we watch this story develop big-time on capitol hill, we're speaking with lawmakers from both parties this hour. democratic senator chris coons and republican congressman lee zeldin. our representatives here to break it down. on the set, white house correspondent for npr tamara keith and editor for axe yos nick johnson. hans. we're getting new information this morning in on how the white house plans to push back against really what's another crisis for them. we know the government has been reaching out to allies as well. walk us through what you're hearing. >> there will be a domestic response and a foreign one. the domestic one will be to try to shore up support on capitol hill and make sure allies there are on the same page on talking points. internationally the president will speak with the king of jordan. the turkish counterpart will be here as well. this morning we have the white house scrambling to try to clarify president trump's tweets
this morning. they're making a distinction. they're trying to say there is no daylight between what president trump tweeted this morning and what all white house officials including the national security advisers are saying on the record last night. reviewing the facts of the story. late last evening, "washington post" reporting that president trump revealed to the russian foreign minister in the oval office certain details about intelligence that could have potentially allowed the russians to deduce, to sort of reverse-engineer and figure out who the source was. the source was from a foreign government. now, what's interesting about this is that there are two parts to this story. number one, what did the president reveal, how much did he show, and number two, did the white house try -- that the white house tried to clean it up by going to the cia and the international security agency and saying, we may have had a problem here. we need to make sure and tamp things down. the president's tweet this morning. as president i wanted to share with russia at an openly
scheduled white house meeting which i have the absolute right to do facts pertaining to terrorism and to airline flight safety. humanitarian reasons, plus i want russia to greatly step up their fight against isis and terrorism. the white house is saying this morning there is no contradiction between that statement and what hr mcmaster said last night. have a listen. >> the story that came out tonight as reported is false. the president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. at no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed. and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. i was in the room. it didn't happen. >> a large part of what mcmaster is denying was actually not alleged in the "washington post" report. what you have this morning is the white house with a thin argument. it's a short runway.
they're trying to land it there. the white house won't be arbiter on how far the store goes. today watch for not only reaction on capitol hill but what are allies saying around the globe and in the middle east as well. >> hans nichols. thank you. keep us honest from the white house. also watching what is happening on capitol hill. why? that's what's going to be driving a lot of the story line today as senators, congress members, get back into town and are really, frankly, forced to talk about this. some reaction already from mitch mcconnell saying he wants, quote, a little less drama from the white house and instead wants them to focus on the republican agenda. mcconnell speaking to bloomberg tv this morning. we're hearing calls from some republicans including congressman galdlagher saying te president should share a transcript. chris coons with us. quite a lot to get to today, senator. let's get your initial reaction
to the reports that the president shared official material with the russians. >> it's very troubling. it suggests, if true, that the president does not appreciate how risky and dangerous it is to share classified information with one of our main adversaries, russia, with their foreign minister and ambassador specifically about a highly classified, highly sensitive source that has given us critical insights into isis, into their planning of potential future attacks against the united states. the story as reported suggests that the information that was shared by the president would allow the russians and their allies, the assad regime in syria and iran to perhaps shut down this critical intelligence stream to the united states. >> do you want to see the transcript or a more full readout from the meeting last week? >> of course. there might also be tapes. but who knows. it's been publicly reported there were transcripts of the meeting and efforts made to
clean up after the meeting. that should be reviewed promptly by the appropriate committees in the senate. >> you are on the foreign relations committee in the senate. we heard from hans nichols. two questions for you. number one, have you heard from everybody overseas, any of your counterparts, so far, about this reporting? >> no. >> secondly, what do you expect you may hear and what are you concerned about in the way of fallout? >> i'll be joining other members of the foreign relations committee in an important meeting later today with a vital ally from the persian gulf. i expect that as the day unfolds more of my colleagues will be hearing from contacts in other countries. a key part of our counter-terrorism intelligence network is information that is shared with us by partners, by allies and, in some cases, even, by adversaries. this is a vital piece of our national security infrastructure. this suggests, hallie, that our president is probably troublingly unfamiliar with exactly what steps need to be
taken to protect these vital threads of information. >> you talk about national security. do you believe president trump jeopardized our national security? >> well, if true, that would absolutely suggest that he jeopardized our national security. hallie, one question might be why we aren't believing the white house and the spokespeople who they put out at a very senior level last night to push back forcefully on this story. we only have to go back to last week, when, after fbi director comey was fired, sean spicer and other representatives of the administration, up to the vice president, asserted vigorously that the reason he was fired was because of a memo by rod rosenstein and comey's mishandling of the hillary clinton e-mail situation. by the end of the week the president himself had disagreed with that story put poout by hi own white house. now we're seeing a repeat of the same pattern. senior leaders strongly denying a story which the president on
twitter implicitly confirms almost immediately. >> are you saying you almost don't believe what h.r. mcmaster has had to say? >> i respect the national security adviser and i -- >> do you believe him in this instance? >> in his statement he carefully parsed what was and wasn't said in the white house meeting. and i think it will undermine his credibility here on the hill if it turns out that the initial reporting by the "washington post" now confirmed by several other leading news sources is in fact true. >> the president, though, saying, for example, this morning tweeting that he has an absolute right to share facts pertaining to terrorism and security. the administration's pushback is that the president can reveal information, can share discussions about common threats. why is he not able to do that? why is that wrong in your view? >> he doesn't face legal risk for sharing highly classified information. but historically when presidents have made a decision like this, they only do so after consult
withi ing with the most senior levels of the defense community to be given advice on the context and the potential consequences for our vital allies. the president apparently didn't realize the damage that he might be doing or, if you knew about it, didn't care about the damage he might be doing to an absolutely vital ally who has shared critically sensitive intelligence with us. in the situation in syria, the middle east and the very real threat to our security posed by isis, that's reckless. >> let me go back to something you said about general mcmaster, that he risks undermining his own credibility on capitol hill. does the administration over all face a crisis of credibility in your view? >> yes. we have seen too many senior leaders in this administration say things that weren't true. the national security adviser michael flynn who lasted just a few weeks before he had to be fired for making public misstatements. the attorney general, who had to recuse himself after it was revealed he had made misstatements about his meetings with the very same ambassador from russia who was in the meeting in the oval office that
we are currently talking about. this steady, dr. ip, drip, dripf incidents that undermine confidence both in their ability to stay on message and for the message they deliver to be truthful i think is beginning to undermine their confidence, the confidence both that they're held in here in congress and around the world. >> what can congress really do here? your colleagues are calling for more information. the transcripts, richard blumenthal thinks the intel community should subpoena tapes or transcripts. would you support that? and do you see it happening? is that where we're headed? >> we have a complex week ahead of us, hallie. i do think we need a special counsel. i think it's important to be reassured that the fbi investigation that is a counter-intelligence investigation is continuing and is independent and on a strong footing. we are anticipating a nomination by the president for a new fbi director possibly by the end of the week. the president could take an important step towards restoring confidence in the role of the
fo fbi if he names someone who is not a partisan. some are long federal experience in prosecution. that's essential. it's important to have a bipartisan vote to support the new director. all three will be unfolding this week and whether the intelligence community calls for a release of transcript or tapes, i expect we'll see that development as well. i feel they should. >> senator chris coons, thank you for joining us. one of the senator's colleagues from delaware and other members of congress are being chased around the capitol. mike, i want you to talk through what you are hearing now. we heard sort of the democratic perspective from senator coons. what about republicans? it's new? >> i think that everybody is walking on eggshells here. what we heard from bob carper,
the quote, the downward spiral. we heard from mitch mcconnell. an interview about an hour ago. typical mcconnell understatement. says he wants to see a little less drama from the white house because they're trying to move forward on their agenda. i am standing here in the dirksen building on a hearing on medicare. they won't make much headway if all the oxygen is being sucked up by the latest tweets and controversies. i have spoken with several senators going into this hearing. again, an unrelated hearing. varied reactions from republicans. john thune says, if it's true, he is troubled. marco rubio says his office, he has asked the white house for more information, for more clarification. tim scott, the conservative from south carolina, stead fast, stalwart in his support of the president. when asked if he has concerns about everything that's happened over the last 24 hours, he says
none. it was a democrat, tom carper of delaware, who really put a fine point on it on his way into the hearing. >> i am a retired navy captain, former commander and intelligence commander with my squadron during the vietnam war. we have a saying in the navy, loose lips sink ships. the idea that not everybody who has a clearance for classified material needs to know that classified material. and i think the president, from what i can tell, has violated both those principles. >> president tweeted this morning essentially saying he is the president. if it's classified, he can divulge what he likes. what is your reaction? >> i was taught in the navy to lead by example. it's not do as i say, it's do as i do. he needs to lead by example. >> again, hallie, a lot of concern from both sides of the aisle. democrats expressing concern openly. republicans perhaps a little bit more reticent. one other conservative. ben sasse of nebraska.
he has expressed serious concerns, he wants more information as well. >> mike vi quera on capitol hill. you're in for a busy day. it's worth pointing out that donald trump was relentless on the campaign trail in going after hillary clinton on her handling of classified information. roll tape. we're going to roll the tape in just a moment. i want your reaction to the -- what we heard on the campaign from not just donald trump but people like house speaker paul ryan regarding the handling of classified information and what we're seeing now. despite point made even by senator coons that legally the presence can do this. >> the difference is that president trump is president of the united states now. >> correct. >> things change when you're president. and from when you're president and from when you're campaigning. legally he is probably in the clear here, but the concern that's coming from capitol hill, senators on both sides of the aisle saying they need to know
more is an indication that being president is harder than running for president. >> in axe yos today. mike allen calls it the price of inexperience. saying the president didn't know any better. >> we've written about how he's a real estate investor. as a president it's different. you have to keep these things compartmentalized. i think we've seen people tell us thre these things. he doesn't have the experience dealing with this kind of information before. >> back to what we were discussing, the president's comments when he was not president, on the campaign trail. >> we can't have someone in the oval office who doesn't understand the meaning of the word "confidential" or "classified." the secretary of state was extremely careless and negligent
in handling our classified secrets. in my administration, i am going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. >> likely not the first time folks have seen a montage like that and probably not the last. how does the president thread the needle here? >> and there are tweets too. for every single incident there is a tweet from the past where he completely contradicts what's happening now. how does he thread the needle? he is doing what donald trump does, which is not admit that he made any mistakes. he -- he, throughout his career, has never admitted defeat on anything, has never admitted that he was wrong. he just -- he just doubles down and moves forward. at the moment that's what they're doing. >> administration officials defending that, nick. they're saying, of course he can talk about common threats. >> you mentioned threading the needle. wanted to hear from senator
coons, what are his republican friends and colleagues on the hill telling him. his base is solid. his supporters think he's doing a great job. lead story of some of the web sites, this is a deep state. this is fake news. the punishment should be on the leakers, not on the president. we don't know if he's losing support on the hill. >> what are you hearing from some of your sources related to all this? >> hallie, you know, we haven't confirmed the details of what happened in the oval office to our reporting satisfaction, but i am speaking to current and former intelligence officials who are aghast at the implications of these reports. the key thing here is the allegation that president trump shared information from an ally. it's one thing for him to share information that the u.s. intelligence community gathered on its own. there are some issues with that, but the notion that he would share information from an ally and not just with britain or france or with a country with which we have a close intelligence sharing relationship, but with russia,
an intelligence adversary. so the implications are, number one, if the ally had an agent in the field. that person's life could be at risk. number two, the ally could stop sharing a vital stream of intelligence. we're already hearing from european countries and others who are raising questions about whether they'll continue to share intelligence with the united states. current and former officials are also telling me you may see the cia and nsa reluctant to share information with the white house. to cut back on the sources and methods that they're sharing. that's a bad thing because the whole point of intelligence is to inform the president. >> ken dilanian joining us from washington. you bring up three interesting points that we'll talk about coming up after the break. the real-world impact on the intel community. we're talking to insiders about what this all means and what the potential fallout could be. that's after the break.
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if he continues to operate this way, there are really serious questions about the credibility of the office and the trust the american people can have in this presidency. the damage is that this country may cut off any kind of intelligence provided to the united states on very sensitive issues that relate to the national security of this country. that's the damage that can be
done here. and the president needs to understand that. >> former defense secretary leon panetta fired up this morning on the reports we've been talking about, that president trump revealed sensitive information to russian officials according to the "washington post" and others. joinl t ned price joins us. former senior director of the national security council and former special assistant to president obama. tamara and nick also with us. leon panetta said the credibility of the office is at stake here. do you agree? >> that's absolutely right. the toll of this disclosure, if it was described accurately in the "washington post," is not the frayed alliance with this key ally whichever it is. it is the more collective, chilling toll that these reports will have on our intelligence relationships around the globe. our information sharing is predicated on the fact that we share with you if you share with us. and with a reciprocal understanding, with our partners and allies and even some adversaries, frankly, that we'll
protect and safeguard each other's information. now that this story is out there and if president trump did what he is alleged to have done, our partners, our allies and adversaries will look at us and question if we're able to protect their information. they could make the calculation that it's not worth taking the risk to share information with us. >> let me ask you this, ned. the president does have broad authority when it comes to handling classify information. why is that not a credible defense here? >> well, look, it is a credible criminal defense, but i don't think we're talking about that. what we're talking about is the collective toll this will have on our national security. there is a phrase often thrown around that applies to lots of strategies and tactics in the security world. that is lawful but awful. what the president did in disclosing this classified information is probably lawful. but it is awful because, as i was saying and as director panetta was saying in your clip, this will have a paralyzing effect on intelligence relationships around the world.
if countries stop sharing with us threat information, that could put american lives at risk. i can't tell you as a cia analyst how many plots against american citizens we learned of and thwarted based on information from foreign countries. >> the president is going abroad to meet with allies in the middle east in four days. i know you have been preparing for this trip. nick, you have been reporting on it as well. what does the president need to do to reassure some of the allies specifically about the point that ned is making? >> it's not just the allies in the middle east. it's the g-7 and nato allies. they are shaken. he has stopped saying that nato is obsolete. but they're not confident that he is really like a good partner. >> cutting you off tamara, because we're going to the senate floor. senator chuck schumer is speaking. he is making news. >> -- rely on intelligence from our allies to keep america safe.
america can't have eyes and ears everywhere. if our allies abroad can't trust us to keep sensitive information close to the vest, they may no longer share it with us. that undermines key relationships and even more importantly, makes us less safe. second, if accurate, such a disclosure could damage our interests in the middle east. we did not collaborate with russia in syria or elsewhere in the middle east for the simple fact we have diverging interests. russia, for example, has worked with iran to prop up the brutal assad regime. sharing vital intelligence with russian officials could allow the russians to pursue or even possibly eliminate the source or figure -- the source or figure out how the ally conducts operations, including against any -- any against russia or
russia's allies in the region. and third, if the report is true, the president's alleged carelessness with classified information will further damage the relationship between the white house and the intelligence community, an essential relationship for the security of america. the intelligence community needs to be able to trust the president, trust that he will treat classified information with caution, with care. our intelligence professionals, many of them, put their lives on the line every day to acquire information that is critical to our national security, that is critical to keeping americans safe. they've done a very good job. if the reporting is accurate, in one fell swoop, the president could have unsettled our allies, emboldened our adversaries, endangered our military and intelligence officers world over and exposed our nation to
greater risk. given the gravity of the matter, we need to be able to quickly assess whether or not this report is true and what exactly was said. so i am calling on the white house to make the transcript of -- >> we are listening to chuck schumer. pull his audio back up. he calling on the white house, he says -- >> the white house should make the transcript of the meeting available immediately to the congressional intelligence committees. and if the president has nothing to hide, he should direct that the transcript of the meeting be made available. >> this is now, hearing from chuck schumer the call from congress, congressional democrats of the white house to provide the transcript of the meaning. one republican member is echoing this call as well. ned price, we heard senator
chris coons earlier this hour reiterate the need. that members want to see what was said inside the meeting. >> it's an interesting question. the "washington post," in the middle of its story, included another interesting detail. that is that the white house went back to the memorandum of that meeting and actually white-washed it, actually deleted the more sensitive excerpts that would have betrayed this key intelligence source at the center of this story. so it's an interesting question as to whether the memorandum for the record would actually reflect this part of the discussion, and frankly, according to the "washington post," i suspect it would not. >> nick, i want to get your take away. we were talking about the foreign trip and what's at stake here. in talking with not just allies in the middle east but the others in brussels and sicily and others. >> sharing is important among allies. threats come up all over the world. allies trust each other to hold these things close to their
vests and not share them with countries like russia. that's exactly the talking point that senator schumer went through. this is the drama senator mcconnell wants to avoid. the sharing of the threats between united states and its allies. >> ned, your take on something else. hr mcmaster, the national security adviser who stepped in to replace michael flynn at a time of incredible turmoil inside the national security apparatus of this administration. he has been perceived among republicans and some democrats as one of the most well regarded people in that administration. sort of a steadying force. this is a huge moment for him. he is the face of this response. and you have heard some reaction, some questions about the potential for his credibility to be hurt here. how does he thread this needle, and as somebody who has known and been in these circles for a while, i want your takeaway on how you think mcmaster is managing this crisis. >> if you look at the statement
he read yesterday and the other statements put out from rex tillerson and dina powell and others. they're carefully worded and they're all red herrings. what the statements deny including the statement that he read in front of the white house yesterday as we're seeing on screen, the "washington post" story doesn't actually allege what was denied. then, of course, this morning the president came out and pulled the rug out from under h.r. mcmaster, from his secretary of state and his deputy national security adviser and essentially admitted to the core premise of the "washington post" story, to the accuracy of it. >> the administration denied that they talked about shared common threats, which is what the president talked about this morning. >> you would certainly imagine this president come out swinging against the fake media and, you know, his enemy is out to get him. he didn't do that. he actually confirmed that a discussion took place of shared threats, and i think you don't have to read too far into it to understand what he was alluding to. >> ned price. thank you much for joining us.
back with a look at the morning's headlines. security experts say they found more evidence linking north korea to the ransomware attacks. susan rice among the speakers headlining the american leaders conference. this is a live look at the former ambassador. senators elizabeth warren and cory booker also set to speak. we're listening for news, by the way. if we get it, we'll bring it to you. a couple hours away from president trump welcoming turkish president erdogan to the white house. at the top of the agenda, you can bet, the battle against isis. but, there is a potential fly in the ointment here, a couple of them. one, talks about u.s. military
tactics in syria, specifically arming syrian kurds to fight the terror group. as new reports come out that the assad regime has tried to cover up the mass murders of thousands of syrian people. stuart holiday and my panel tamara keith from npr and nicholas johnston. ambassador, i'll start with you. how do you see the meeting playing out here in light of the news that's dominating the day this morning, which is the president potentially revealing classified information to russia? >> i think erdogan has been agenda, and he -- for him, it's very upset about arming the kurdish militia. we have fatah gulen, the person he views as behind the coup which sought to overthrow him. his objective is to get those things done. i think the issue relating to classified material plays into syria because turkey is a partner in theory going after
isis in syria. if we're compromised in any way in terms of effectiveness there, that could be a problem. but i expect erdogan to focus on his agenda. he is cozying up with the russians too, there is a mutual interest there. >> do you think this administration would be any more receptive to the idea of extraditing gulen back to turkey as erdogan wants? >> if they could play that chip and get something meaningful in return. at this point it doesn't look like -- it would compromise the idea of the united states as a refuge for people with differing political views. they were tasked with providing evidence, the turkish government, to the united states about what specific connections there were to the coup. i believe there is, frankly, a fairly thin -- it's more circumstan circumstantial. i would say it would be problematic to return him with nothing in return. >> do you get a sense that
allies are really concerned about these kinds of things happening, the leaks. >> if you remember going back to the 1950s and '60s, united states and the brits, we were always frustrated with them because we had this very close intelligence relationships but could never quite be confident that that word wouldn't get out. this issue is a little bit more serious because we are talking about ongoing operations where there are people in harm's way. this is not just a big strategic question. it's a -- it's an operational question. >> you talked about -- >> the long-term impact is the same as well. it might spread to other operations as well. >> that's rightme. we depend on that information sharing more than you'd think, especially in areas where we don't have a presence on the ground. we have to do that and protect that thread. >> we heard from the state department yesterday related to the crematorium and some startling news. here is what they had to say and
then i want reaction from you. >> the regime has abducted and detain detained between 65,000 and 117,000 people between 2011 and 2015. the regime has also authorized the extra judicial killings of thousands of detainees using mass hangings at the military prison. we believe the syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the prison complex would pris prison which could dispose of eviden remains with little evidence. >> this raises the specter of genocide. in turkey that's obviously a very loaded term. they have issues with respect to the armenians and their history there. so i, again, i think what it does is focuses on the need to get the assad regime out in some fashion. the turks and the russians and
others are holding these talks, which we are not a part of, which will outline kind of a political path forward. so i think it just makes that more urgent and perhaps puts more pressure on erdogan to lean on assad and try to push him. >> the human rights issues, this is something that we haven't heard much from in some of these readouts that we get in the conversations with the president. how do you view those and his hosting of these so-called strong men? >> there are two tracks here. on one hand he has found kindred spirits in the strong leaders in the world. on the other hand, you know, he acted in syria when, you know, president obama arguably didn't, on the basis of humanitarian, on the basis of these photographs of these kids and people who had been attacked with chemical weapons. there seem to be two tracks to this. human rights are important when they -- when it is sort of brought to him in that visceral way, but on a strategic level,
it's more realpolitik. >> thank you for joining us. tamara and nick, stick around. we have news. h.r. mcmaster, the national security adviser will speak sometime within the next 45 minutes at the white house behind us. he expected to face questions this morning on whether the intelligence sharing that the president is reported to have done with the russians may have affected our relationships overseas and relationships inside the intelligence community as well. you're taking a live look at the podium where we expect to see general mcmaster right around 11:30 eastern time. stick around.
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everything your family touches sticks with them. make sure the germs they bring home don't stick around. use clorox disinfecting products. because no one kills germs better than clorox. so this morning president trump is facing heat over reportedly disclosing highly sensitive material to the russians in a meeting last week. turns out the commander in chief, of course, does have the power to declassify information. we're diving into the look at the presidential oath that promises to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. i want to bring in my guests on the set. attorney at law kerry cordero. former national security lawyer for the justice department. and michael gur sten, columnist for the "washington post." kerry. i'll start with you. former president nixon had this infamous comment. he said, when the president does it it means it's not illegal.
in this case it's true. >> the president can declassify information. usually there are three different ways he would do it. either he would make a deliberate strategic decision to declassify information. usually that would be done in consultation with the director of national intelligence or other intelligence professionals. he may do something accidentally. human error, a slip of the tongue, and makes a mistake. but in this case what it looks like at least from the initial report is that he did so with recklessness or carelessness about what the constitutions would be of releasing this type of information and providing it to the russian diplomats. >> if it is the third option, if it's not deliberate in consultation. it's not accidental and human error and it is as you describe it, reckless, what does that mean? is there a recourse? >> he has the constitutional authority to declassify information. he can always claim as a matter of law that he has the authority to do so. but it really is in complete disregard and violates all norms as far as dealing with
intelligence partners. there are real consequences for the intelligence community, especially if this information was regarding counter-terrorism information. >> michael, "the post" reports the president revealed this information, they say, as kind of a boast. quote, i get great intel. i have people brief me on great intel every day. kind of showing off the information that he gets. your reaction? >> my reaction is people are coming to the stunning realization that the president of the united states can't adequately defend the country. if that's true, what do you do with that information? can't tell friends from enemies. he can't keep information secret. he has no real core or conscience when it comes to these issues. what do you do in that circumstance when you realize your president can't defend the country? >> carrie, what do you do? you've been inside the apparatus of the justice department. what's happening behind the scenes there? >> there would certainly be concern at the director of national intelligence. the justice department and throughout the intelligence community because their jobs actually is to provide
intelligence information to the president so that he can make good decisions in support of the country. what this really becomes is a political question and an issue for congress to deal with, because he does have the legal authority to declassify information, but he also look an oath of office. and he is supposed to uphold the constitution, protect and defend, and so the question, but a political question, is is he now doing things by releasing this type of information, for example, that violates his oath of office or otherwise goes against what the oath that he took. >> so the political implications that carrie is talking about, michael, you've heard some democrats in congress mention the "i" word, impeachment. three instances where congresses of the past considered these articles of impeachment. put this into context for us. >> i think that, you know, on the political side, eventually republicans are going to make the judgment can he learn, okay.
because what they've seen so far is someone who instance after instance gains no knowledge as he goes along. that i think is what motivated senator corker to say they're on a downward spiral. he has a standing among his colleagues that is really impressive. that's a definite signal to the white house. we could see major changes based on expectations on capitol hill that they're not capable of pulling their act together under the current configuration. the problem there is, it's not a staff problem. that's the difficulty ultimately. and so it will be a political judgment that members of congress eventually make, assuming that issues bubble up -- legal issues bubble up from this type of matter, whether this is something they'll act on. and it's going to take a lot for republicans to do that. >> we have learned this morning that the administration is working. you talk about what's happening on a staff level, to try to answer these political questions, sending folks to the hill to answer questions from
lawmakers or at least talking with them about this. you have been somebody -- both of you have worked inside administrations before. i'll start with you, michael. what is happening behind closed doors in the west wing right now? >> well, there is a reason that this >> there is a reason this administration leaks like a sieve. the president shows no loyalty for the people who work for him. he puts out mcmaster and powell, who really are the last, most respected members of this administration, with the credibility to reassure the country and the congress. then undercuts them with a tweet the next day. >> so there really is a question about what's going to happen politically. one thing with respect to mcmaster, he's taken a lot of heat in the last 12 hours regarding the statement he came out and made. the one issue with that is i think he has multiple audiences. when he was referring to sources and methods, it is possible he was also speaking to the foreign partners who may have provided the information. because he needs to reassure as a national security
professional, he needs to reassure our foreign partners that they can still share important intelligence information with us. >> thank you both so much for joining us here on set. i appreciate it. i want to go now over to capitol hill. as we wait on the national security adviser to brief reporters any minute, congressman lee, republican from new york. congressman, i'm eager to get your reaction to the reporting and the administration's response. give me your overall take away this morning. >> the first thing is finding what was said. there's a lot of speculation going on as far as what was discussed inside of that meeting from some of the open sourced information that has become available. they're discussing a well-known threat with regards to terrorist groups obtaining laptop computer capabilities. this isn't anything new. i mean, the boko haram in somalia in february of 2016 attempted to bring down a passenger airliner using a
computer bomb. it was about a month and a half ago where there was a travel restriction that was placed on people bringing personal devices on to planes from ten particular airports which were named. we know that al qaeda of the arabian peninsula has a bomb maker who is developing a technology that is possibly being shared with other terrorist groups in the region. so there happens to be a whole lot of information that is available on open source, that's well-known. the real question is what was provided beyond that? i don't know the answer. >> to answer that question, some of your colleagues in congress want to see the transcripts. they are asking the white house to turn over transcripts to congress. is that something you support? >> i don't have any issue at all. i'd be happy to read those transcripts. that would answer my question, if these transcripts exist. i don't know what else was discussed at that meeting or any
other meeting that the president has been having with heads of state and foreign ambassadors and other diplomats. he's had a whole lot of conversations. whether it is in-person or on the telephone. he's traveling to several countries next week. i'm not, you know, asking for a transcript of every conversation he has at the g7. >> this particular conversation, you'd like to see the transcripts. >> happy to. >> senator corker says this white house is in a downward spiral. do you share similar concerns? >> the white house, i mean, while i certainly don't agree with everything and there are some issues from local issues that might impact my district to internationalish shoo you is ise president approaches russia, there are a lot of other activities that i support. i do believe that the president's action as it relates to a targeted missile strike of infrastructure, not people in syria, or giving general
nicholson the tools, the flexibility, the resources necessary to help have a better chance of winning in afghanistan. you could go around the map, as well as some of the polities here at home that i do support. i didn't vote for barack obama but he was my president. donald trump is the president of the united states. i want him to be successful. i want our country to be successful. hopefully whatever challenges that he faces on any level are challenges that can be overcome and are for the best interests of the american people. >> are the challenges getting in the way of the legislative agenda you want to be talking about with your constituents back home? how frustrating is that? >> from a legislative standpoint, we just a couple of weeks ago funded the government till the end of september. in the spirit of compromise, republicans, democrats, conservatives, liberals all came together. there was, in the spirit of compromise, i don't know of anyone who got 100% of what they want. the health care process, that right now the senate is legislating what to do, and you'll see in the house over the
course of the next couple weeks, increased focus on tax reform. we start the appropriations process for the next fiscal year and the need for infrastructure. from a legislative standpoint, we just need to continue to press forward -- >> so you don't think the crises have gotten in the way of what you want to do? >> not for me. i'm going to go back down to washington, d.c. here in a couple of hours to start a new week. whether it's the committees i serve on or the legislation that's before us, you know, when i need to fight for the long island sound program or sea grant of the national heprogram there is no issue working with the democratic and republican senators of the house to get the stuff done. >> do you believe the president jeopardized national security? >> again, i would need to know what was said beyond what is available in open source. i don't want to reach a conclusion without having all of the facts. i do have colleagues who, you
know, do mention the "i" word as the president's name is on the bible and have pledged to oppose, resist, persist, obstruct at all costs, saying you can't work with the president because if you work with him, you'll normalize his presidency. that is not the way i'm approaching things. i would want my facts first before i rush to judgment as it relates to the conversation with the russians. >> is this administration in your view suffering a crisis of credibility, congressman? >> there are a lot of people who, you know, as soon as the "washington post," as we saw with the most recent story, they say highly classified information released, right away, people don't want to know what the facts are, they just say the "i" word. as far as lack of credibility amongst people who are trying to undercut the administration and don't want them to be successful, absolutely. amongst others, i think there are americans who, from issue to issue, keep an open mind. and when something like what was reported in "washington post"
happens, they want to get their facts. >> okay. >> and if the facts merit some additional action or conversation, they don't want to rush to judgment. i'm one of those people that don't want to rush to judgment. >> congressman, i appreciate you joining us. i just want to kind of dive into a little bit of what you were talking about to make it very clear. i do think there have been calls, as you heard from senator chuck schumer, to get, if there are tapes, transcripts, whatever, the conversations turned over. will you be asking your colleagues on the hill to support you or support members of congress in that effort, in reaching out to the white house on that? how active are you going to be? >> yeah, first off, are there transcripts? that's the first question. secondly, what information was provided that can be shared? i'm not aware if there is anything else that was discussed in this meeting or any other meeting that's of interest that we -- we're not able to share with the american public.
as far as congress goes, in full disclosure and transparency, i don't see -- i'm not aware of any reason why congress can't be brought up to speed entirely on everything that was discussed inside that meeting. >> congressman zeldin, thank you for joining us. i appreciate it. i want to go back to my panelists here to get your reaction. your take away from what we heard from congressman zeldin. you are seeing him and other republicans talking about the desire to see exactly what happened. to get to, if you will, the facts of the case. do you see the white house being amenable to that? >> no, i don't. their mode is defiance. i think a lot of members on the hill are also concerned about the igniting the russian scandal and having the russians in the white house immediately afterwards. choices like that, they don't understand. this is political recklessness, stupidity of the first order. they don't understand why they're wounding themselves in
this -- in these matters, instead of, you know, providing the information and being forthcoming. >> your take away? >> here's the question from the perspective of what the role of the intelligence committee is, they're providing intelligence to the president so he can be better informed to make decisions that protect the united states's national security. so the questions that members of the intelligence committees in particular are going to have is why is he -- why did he give this information to the russian diplomats, who are working in concert with the assad regime in syria, if, in fact, the report is correct and this concerned counterterrorism information. >> thank you very much for joining us here on this program. i want to remind you guys, we are looking ahead to, in the next half an hour, the national security adviser, h.r. mcmaster, briefing reporters at the white house behind us. this is something that had been set for later in the afternoon, along with press secretary sean spicer. it is our understanding we'll still hear from the press
secretary but off camera and not until later in the afternoon. it won't be a joint briefing, as had been originally planned. this was supposed to be a discussion about the foreign trip the president is leaving for on friday. instead, it is all but certain this conversation with general mcmaster will be dominated by questions about this "washington post" reporting that came out last night that the president revealed classified information. there will be a discussion almost certainly of the tweets the president sent this morning, seeming to confirm that he did discuss common threats with russia. these aviation threats, something that the white house has acknowledged. it does raise questions about the denial that the president ever revealed sources and methods, given that that was something that had not been originally reported. more questions than answers here coming out of the white house. i want to remind you, too, of where the story is going. to capitol hill. we're already seeing reaction and fallout. not just from top republicans. mitch mcconnell talking about the drama in this white house. but from top democrats, as well, like chuck schumer, who is now calling on the